Intuit released it’s latest version of it’s flagship product Quicken 2010 on October 11th 2009 so being the geek I am had to acquire a copy for review and see if it’s worth the expense both for myself and my readers. The sad state of affairs is that as far as the personal finance software world is concerned Intuit is the only game in town for a comprehensive package of expense tracking, investment tracking, budgeting and planning. We lost Microsoft Money this year so it really leaves this a one horse race in the standalone software department. You Need a Budget is the only other real contender in this area but their focus is solely on budgeting and expense tracking. I use YNAB for my day to day tracking today but I wanted to see if Quicken could replace YNAB and then some. Let’s dig in.
If you are looking for a Mac Version of Quicken please read my new review of Quicken Essentials which is the only Quicken game in town for you Apple fanboy and fangirls.
Quicken 2010 Version Comparison
There are 4 different versions of Quicken 2010, okay really there are 5 if you include their free Quicken Online service, okay scratch that there are 6 including the Rental Property Manager, but I’m going to skip that one outright, that’s a pretty specialized niche. But we’ll just focus on their standalone products. For my review and use I opted for Quicken 2010 Deluxe edition I wanted to try out some of the additional tools not included with the Starter Edition.
|Quicken 2010 Edition||Starter Edition||Deluxe||Premier||Home & Business|
|Step by Step Guidance||X||X||X||X|
|Bank and Credit Card Accounts in 1 place||X||X||X||X|
|Import Data from Financial Institution||X||X||X||X|
|Automatically categorizes expenses||X||X||X||X|
|Bill Alerts to help avoid late fees||X||X||X||X|
|Schedule recurring and upcoming bills to show impact to income||X||X||X||X|
|SAVINGS/DEBT REDUCTION GOALS|
|Import from all versions of Quicken||X||X||X|
|Investment Accounts, 401(k), IRA, 529, bank, credit cards, etc.||X||X||X|
|Create a Debt Reduction Plan||X||X||X|
|Retirement Savings Tools||X||X||X|
|Create Savings Plans for college, house or other purchases||X||X||X|
|INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT & TAX PLANNING|
|Consolidate All investment accounts in one place||X||X|
|Comprehensive investing, planning and savings tools||X||X|
|Morningstar Ratings for mutual funds to help make informed decisions||X||X|
|Track cost basis and estimate capital gains to help minimize taxes||X||X|
|Show changes in assets, liabilities and net worth||X||X|
|MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS|
|Auto categorization of Business or Personal Expenses||X|
|Show your Business Profit or Loss||X|
|Run Schedule C Reports to ease Tax Preparation||X|
|Highlights tax-deductible business expenses||X|
|Create invoices and estimates||X|
Where to Buy
You can save a trip to the store and buy online direct from Intuit. The nice part is that you can download it immediately. Also right now as of this posting if you buy Quicken 2010 Deluxe or any of the more advanced products you can get Willmaker Plus for free.
Quicken 2010 Unboxing
Why they don’t just distribute software in a DVD like box I’ll never know, maybe it’s so they could include their Chase Bank backed credit card offer! No thanks, but how about a getting started managing your finances card? Nope not in there.
Yeah not so much. There’s none included with the software instead on the CD wrapper you are directed to http://newquicken.com/getstarted which sends you right to the Quicken forums will you find absolutely no help on getting going with Quicken 2010. Apparently Intuit wants to foster some social networking and let us learn from ourselves. You’ll have to dig but as of this writing there’s next to nothing in the forums. This is a disappointing way to be introduced to this product. There’s not so much as a quick start guide to get you going. In the help menu you will find some guidance, albeit terse. If you’ve never used quicken before your in for a learning curve. Oh yeah if you go to look for the user manuals to print out as referenced on your CD cover, you won’t find them. No actual user manuals.
Quicken 2010 The Official Guide (Quicken Press)
Quicken Press just put out an official guide to using Quicken 2010 that might also be helpful for getting up to speed with this latest version. I haven’t reviewed it as of yet but the current reviews seem favorable. It was written by Maria Langer who is a freelance writer, helicopter pilot, and long-time Quicken user. A former financial analyst with a degree in accounting, she is the bestselling author of the previous editions of this book. It covers the Quicken Deluxe and Premier versions.
Topics Covered by the Official Guide
- Customize Quicken for your preferences
- Track your cash flow
- Set up Online Account Services
- Automate transactions and tasks
- Reconcile checking, savings, and credit cards accounts
- Track investments and optimize your portfolio
- Monitor assets and loans
- Manage household records
- Reduce debt, save money, and plan for retirement
- Simplify tax preparation and maximize deductions
Quicken 2010 Startup Screen
In an effort to get you going as quickly and easily as possible they provide a 3 step process to get your accounts setup, enter your recurring bills and then go on to budgeting and savings goals. The process is quick and painless and does a decent job getting you up and running with the basics. It almost makes up for the lack of documentation.
The Quicken 2010 Check Register
If you’ve ever used Quicken or Money or frankly any personal finance software the check register will look familiar to you. It’s found by click on the Banking tab at the top of your Quicken window. It’s use is pretty straightforward and makes that all important cash register cha-ching! when you enter a transaction. Ah Quicken you’re so 2000 Late.
Syncing Quicken with your Bank or Credit Union
While setting up your initial accounts you have the option to pick your financial institution from Quicken’s comprehensive list. My smallish credit union as well as my bigger banks were all in here and Quicken went ahead and imported the last 90 days of transactions from my accounts. This is where Quicken shines, pretty much any bank or credit union is setup to have Quicken pull your data. This is by and large Quicken’s best and most powerful feature.
Once you’ve setup all of your accounts it’s a simple matter to click on Update to bring in all of your bank’s cleared transactions.
Budgeting and Spending Goals with Quicken 2010
All right let’s be honest. For anyone doing any form of more advanced budgeting Quicken has not fit the bill. Sure it’s always had some generic spending limits but not really a comprehensive planning product nor an easy way to maintain variable expenses or sinking funds from month to month. With 2010 they might have actually done it. On the planning Tab under Other Tools you’ll find the budget. This opens a wizard type menu where you can go through and record your expected income, the frequency and then include your various budget categories you want to track. I like the fact that you can set a time period for things such as Garbage that may be every 2 months or your paycheck which may come twice a month. Setup is relatively simple. When you’re done with that your Planning page will have all sorts of useful info regarding your current budget status.
Quicken 2010 clearly defines your actual expenditures versus what you’ve allocated shows whatever balance you may have left in that category as a “Left Over.” The part I love is that they have the concept of a Rollover Reserve which means if you have a category such as Auto Maintenance that you want to keep building month to month but won’t necessarily have frequent expenditures you can watch your balance build. If you decide that you have too much money in a category you can allocate some or all of it to another category. First inspection this looks very well done, time will tell if it’s usable for the long term. I know many users complained of trouble with the 2009 version of this function.
The essence of the budget planner is that it goes well beyond their simplistic view of allocating a set amount of money to a category. What they’ve really got setup is a framework for a Zero Based Budget and I’m anxious to try and use it over the coming months.
Savings Plans or Savings Targets
If you are saving up for a specific big ticket item or event, Christmas comes to mind. You can easily setup a Savings Target in your Planning Window. It shows your progress towards that goal and is rather simplistic. You can also create a Savings Plan and Quicken will effectively create a separate account just for that savings goal. It’s a strange way to go about tracking the progress of your goal and doesn’t show up in your planning window. Contributions to the saving goal are recorded as transfers from your other account. You’d be better off creating an actual savings account and transferring it there rather than a virtual savings account which is the methodology here. What it’s doing is hiding that money from your check register.
Quicken 2010 Investment Tracking
Not only does quicken link into your banking institutions it will bring in your investment portfolio such as your mutual fund accounts, IRA’s, 401(k)’s, 529 College Savings plans and the like. I focused most of my time on reviewing the budgeting and expense tracking portions of Quicken 2010 but from what I’ve seen there are a lot of tools available to track your investments and provide some capital gains guidance as well. The premier version of Quicken has even more capability in this area if you are so inclined. This is really an area that none of the other personal finance software providers can touch. If I use Quicken for nothing else it will be to track my investments and net worth going forward.
Quicken 2010 Extra Tools
Depending on which version you purchase you’ll get some extra tools to help you with your finances. Some useful, some not.
Debt Reduction Planner
If you’re rolling your own debt snowball and want to create a printout of your debt payment plan then you can use the debt reduction tool. It’s an okay solution, I still prefer the free spreadsheet version for Debt Reduction but hey it’s a tool you’ve got as an added bonus.
This is a secure place to keep all of your other passwords for your banks and other online sites and protect with one common password. Again it’s nice they include it, but you don’t really want to be limited to Quicken for all of your password needs, and it doesn’t scale well if you are on another computer. If you’re looking for a good way to manage your Passwords we’ve got you covered with some other free tools.
This is a service that Intuit provides so that you can pay your bills direct from Quicken 2010. It’s a $9.99 a month charge for something that you should be able to do with your bank for free. If your bank doesn’t offer free bill pay, find a new bank. And just forgot about this ridiculous service.
Quicken 2010 Review Wrap-Up and Recommendations
Who’s It For?
It’s for the discriminating user out there who requires all of their personal finance ducks in a row. This is the place for tracking all of your basic finances along with your investments. It does a good job of this. It’s also got enough budgeting horsepower built in that this could be your one stop software application.
Who’s It Not For?
First off Apple and Linux users you’re still out of luck. This is a windows only release supporting XP/Vista and Windows 7. Intuit still promises an upcoming Mac version in February of 2010.
I would also not recommend this product for someone who doesn’t like 4000 different options for everything. Some of the power of Quicken 2010 quickly wears off when you try and navigate it’s seemingly limitless options. If you are looking for something just to use as a budgeting tool with some level of expense tracking, I still recommend You Need a Budget. It’s much, much simpler albeit without investment tracking, bill pay, and online syncing of bank data.
Honestly I was prepared to try out this software and then give away my copy but I’m frankly intrigued. The last version of Quicken I used was 1999 before switching to MS Money and now on to You Need a Budget. I’ve got too much invested in YNAB to dump it outright and I really do like it’s budgeting interface. But I have to admit the investment features and various eye candy have me contemplating the move to Quicken. What I’m going to do is run them both in parallel for a month or two. If you want my advice for today, if you want to track investments and have the benefits of online bank synching go for Quicken 2010 otherwise I’d go with You Need a Budget.